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  Friday, 16 August, 2002, 14:31 GMT 15:31 UK
McLaren sign new designer
McLaren boss Ron Dennis and technical director Adrian Newey
Dennis and Newey are strengthening their team

McLaren have made major changes to their design team by signing a new engineer to work under technical director Adrian Newey.

Former Arrows technical boss Mike Coughlan will join the team as chief designer next month, reporting directly to Newey.

Coughlan will assume overall responsibility for the management of the design team, according to a McLaren statement.

Coughlan will join McLaren on 2 September - the team having secured his release from his contract with the struggling Arrows outfit.

Arrows and McLaren chose similar front-end suspension and aerodynamics this season
The Arrows has been admired by other teams this season

Coughlan's appointment will increase speculation that Newey, regarded as the finest motor-racing designer in the world, will begin to step back from Formula One.

The 42-year-old has been growing frustrated with the sport in recent years and is reputed to want to try his hand at new projects.

These could include designing an America's Cup yacht.

But asked about the possibility of Newey devoting more of his time to other projects, a McLaren spokesperson said there were "no plans for that at the moment".

McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh said: "McLaren aims to have the best technical team available to compete at the highest levels and I believe that the combination of Neil and Mike will prove extremely strong.

Complement

Coughlan, who has also worked for Lotus, Benetton and Ferrari, said: "I look forward to the challenges ahead. Everyone that I have met at McLaren has a great determination and a strong will to win."

Coughlan has a reputation as a solid engineer with great expertise in the mechanical aspects of car design.

His Arrows car has drawn admiring glances from rival engineers this season.

Coughlan's talents would therefore complement rather than replace those of Newey, who is renowned as the man best able to create a usable and efficient aerodynamic design.

Neil Oatley, who was formerly McLaren's chief designer, will take on a new title as executive director of engineering.

He will be responsibile for quality control.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC Five Live's Peter Slater
"McLaren announced key technical appointments"
In-depth guide to the 2002 Formula One season

On-track action

Race statistics

Budapest build-up

Jonathan Legard

F1 2002
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